Google said in a blog post that almost 500,000 users may have been impacted, but because the company keeps the log data from this specific API for only two weeks at a time, it can't fully confirm who was truly impacted and who was not.
REGULATORY INTEREST Google said a software glitch in the social site gave outside developers potential access to private Google+ profile data between a major redesign in 2015 and March 2018, when internal investigators discovered and fixed the issue. The company notes that it will be "launching new features purpose-build for businesses", and that it'll share more information in the coming days.
Google announced today that it is shutting down the Google+ social network after the company's engineers found an API bug that might have exposed some private profile data for more than 500,000 Google+ users. However, it says it has tracked down "up to 438" apps that may have used the API in question.
As for what info was exposed, it's reported that "full names, email address, birth dates, gender, profile photos, placed lived, occupation, and relationship status" were all up for grabs.
'Given these challenges and the very low usage of the consumer version of Google+, we made a decision to sunset the consumer version of Google+'.
Google said it couldn't determine which users were impacted by this bug because the API was created to keep logs for only two weeks, and it didn't have access to historical data longer than that. The company said it found "no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused". The glitch was live for almost three years, according to the reports, but Google decided not to make the breach public because it feared regulation.
In a blog post published right after the WSJ's report, Google confirmed that it is shutting down Google+, as well as confirming a number of the details from the WSJ report. Now, only apps that fit a particular use case will be able to access these permissions.
Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai was briefed on the plan not to notify users after an internal committee had reached that decision, according to the WSJ.
In announcing the closure, Google acknowledged that Google+ failed to gain significant traction with consumers.
The announcement comes as public scrutiny has intensified around Silicon Valley tech giants' management of user data, among other issues.
Google said up to 500,000 users had been affected. Over the course of this slow shutdown, they'll let you know of ways to download and migrate your data from it.
The consumer version of Google+ will be wound down over 10 months, ending by August, the company said.
And finally, for action 4, Google is going to limit how many apps are allowed to ask for phone and SMS data permissions in Google Play.